The closing stage of the Ruta del Sol starts uphill and will remain quite bumpy to the end. The burning question is whether there will be enough action to bring about a change at the top of the GC
Welcome back to our live coverage of the Ruta del Sol. We will see who our final overall winner is after all the climbs and bumps along the way.
The race started out uphill, and after only 4 km we had a break group of eight: Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi), Maciej Paterski (CCC), Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nick Van Der Lijke (Roompot), Simon Clarke (Cannondale) and Domen Novak (Bahrain Merida). After 17 km they have a gap of 4:05.
Things could be quite dramatic today, as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is only one second ahead of Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) in GC. The question is whether Contador will attack the leader and try for the win, or will he let it be?
The weather forecast today is not so good: heavy showers and only occasionally sunny.
Our top five going into today’s closing stage: 1
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 13:12.07
2 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +0.01
3 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +0.06
4 Wout Poels (Sky) +0.21
5 Diego Rosa (Sky) +0.45
124km remaining from 151km
After 27 km the gap has gone up to 4:35.
We had one DNS today, Anton Vorobyev of Gazprom-Rusvelo.
In case you forgot, yesterday's stage saw Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) take the sprint win after an escape group was caught only in the last five km.
Seems like we were just starting out the season Down Under, and now we are almost overwhelmed with races. (Not that we are complaining!) We already dusted off one race this morning, as Alexander Kristoff took his third stage at the Tour of Oman and Ben Hermans claimed the overall victory.
Not only do we have rain and wet roads in the mountains we have some heavy wind gusts, too. This is really not a good combination! Let's be careful out there.
@BMCProTeam Sun, 19th Feb 2017 13:06:00
Movistar at the head of the peloton, of course.
What would pro cycling be without a controversy? This weekend's controversy comes out of Portugal at the Tour of Algarve, where some riders question the actions of motos and whether some riders are getting assistance from them.
The day’s first ranked climb of the day, the cat. 3 Puerto del Viento, went to Bravo ahead of Paterski and Clarke.
Coming into today’s stage, Valverde is atop the points ranking, ahead of Pinot and Contador.
For the mountain ranking, Georg Preidler (Sunweb) leads over Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling Academy) and Valverde.
The second ranked climb of the day was the cat. 3 Puerto de las Abejas. This time Paterski took the points ahed of Minnaard and Novak.
Tom Boonen isn't counting down the days until the final race of his career. He doesn't need to since nearly everyone else is doing it for him.
Here is a weather update from our man at the race, Alasdair Fotheringham:
Very blustery winds at finish, heavy showers continue. Finishing km is pretty wide roads, fast, straight downhill as far as a roundabout, then a tiny kick up and slight left-hand curve in the last 300 metres.
Big floods in the Malaga area overnight, very close to where the race finishes, with chunks of road washed away in the city and some buildings collapsed, after very heavy rainfall during the night. But it seems that the race itself won’t be affected.
79km remaining from 151km
After 72 km the gap has jumped to 6:15.
47km remaining from 151km
47 km to go, a gap of 4:54, and rain at the head of the race. The peloton looks dry at the moment.
Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) has decided to give the Giro d'Italia a skip this year and head to the Tour de France instead.
40 km and four and a half minutes gap. The peloton has decided it is time to start thinking of moving up a bit closer.
One of the riders in this break group has already posted a win here, Victor Campanaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo) won the 11.9 km individual time trail on stage 3.
The Ruta del Sol translates as "the route to the sun". Somehow that just doesn't cut it today.
34km remaining from 151km
@pariswheels Sun, 19th Feb 2017 14:57:10
It is dry at the moment, which is good news. 30km and 4:02.
A variety of teams at the head of the peloton, and the speed is not particularly high. Are they really not interested in catching the escape group?
Raindrops visible again at the head of the course.
Fabio Aru finished third overall in Oman and was happy to have the race as training. He has his eye on the Giro this year.
@Vaughters Sun, 19th Feb 2017 15:14:33
21km and .... no time being reported
There we go. 20.7 km and 2:43.
Campanaerts tries to get away from the group, but they won't let him go.
Lots of umbrellas amongst the crowd waiting at the finish line.
Simon Clarke just picked up a very sticky bottle from the team car. Although it was more like a very sticky pair of glasses, in this case.
Preidler is confirmed as overall King of the Mountains for this race.
Campanaerts tries it again and again his attempt is foiled.
14.7 km and we understand still 2:30. Sounds good for the break group.
It does not appear to be raining at the moment, but the street is wet.
Virtually the entire Trek-Segafredo team has gathered at the front of the peloton. Is Contador planning an attack to take the overall title here?
The weather is making information hard to come by. We now hear that three riders have been dropped from the lead group.
Surely the sprinters' teams are interested in being in at the finish today. But t is also possible that cooler heads in the peloton have said 'let's not take any chances on these wet roads.'
We now see six in the led group, as Campanaerts tries again to get away.
And it is raining again.
4 km and 1:13. The break group has it!
Campanaerts and Wellens have done much of the lead work in the break group lately. Needless to say, the group is not working together very well any more.
Campanaerts goes again, with roughly 2.5km left.
And again he is pulled back.
Campanaert hangs at the back of the field, as two riders take off up front - to no avail.
Wellens opens the sprint and is ble to hold on to the finish line!
Looks like Clarke second and Paterski third.
The peloton is now taking its time coming up to the finish line.
They come over about 1:30 later. No problems for Valverde to claim the title.
Valverde crossed the line as 15th, 1:45 down, in the field. Contador didn't contest it, and finished in the same time, about 10 places later.
That gives Valverde his fifth overall title in this race.
On the stage, it was Campanaerts second, and Paterski a close fourth.
Top ten of the stage:
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 3:58:31
2 Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac
3 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
4 Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
5 Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
6 Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
7 Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:01:34
8 Hector Saez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:01:45
9 Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
10 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
Final general classification
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 17:12:23
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:01
3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:06
4 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:21
5 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:45
6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:48
7 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ 0:00:52
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:29
9 Ondrej Cink (Cze) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:48
10 Javier Moreno (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:50
That was the 2017 Ruta del Sol! Thanks for reading along and join us for more exciting action in the coming days!
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